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Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Today was more dirt-moving. Zane said she would be here for 8, but didn't get here until about 8:30, which is becoming a pattern. At least this time we had milk and butter and bread, so breakfast (including iced coffee) could be made. She made the mistake of showing us how to make sweet, milky iced coffee in the blender, and has created a bit of a monster out of me!

Anyway, once she showed up it was back to the dirt pile, which is moving along well despite the sauna-like conditions of this place. Everyone seems to be surprised it is 30+, which is at least slightly reassuring--maybe it will cool down a bit?! I was working close to Zane again, and this time learned about retirement funds, taxes, and the cost of medical care in Latvia. We also talked about the summer camps she went to as a kid in Soviet Times (she was 16 during the collapse). She called them 'Pioneer Camps' and I guess they weren't mandatory, but pretty standard--hers was near by, at an old farm house (that is now a guest house). She said they were lots of fun, but they included a mandatory 4 hour per day work session on the fields of the local kolkhozy (collective farm). She said the fields were so endless it was pretty depressing as you could never see the end of your work, but fun to be with all of your friends.

We wrapped up at about 12:30 because of the heat and had lunch (that milky soup for me; I'm getting good at swallowing before tasting) and spaghetti for C. We got a rest after that, and then set up a slip and slide for the kids. It was going really well until we had to move it down the hill (for no good reason) and the kids lost interest in it. Oh well. Luckily Zane decided it was too hot to keep digging, so we moved on to bathroom cleaning, which was basically just washing mirrors and showers in the two squash club change rooms, and then I did a bit of work while C started to pick classes for next semester. I also started to look for workaway places for the couple of weeks I have free after she leaves and before I go home. There is a horse holiday/cooking school in Portugal which would be pretty cool!

Mid-afternoon, Zane packed us and the kids up and we headed to a beach, which was lovely. There was a strange wind pattern rendering the water at the Baltic sea a comparatively frigid 9C, so we went to a lake instead. It still had a huge, lovely, sandy beach, though, so we mostly lay in the half-shade and read/listened to podcasts while the kids and Zane played in the water, but we went for a brief swim, too. It was quite lovely.

On the way home, we drove past the largest chicken farm in the country, a holdover from Soviet Times. Row upon row upon row upon row upon small-town-sized row of concrete chicken houses. Surreal. Efficient, if nothing else, I suppose!

Back home, we headed up to our loft and I did some work/trip planning before dinner. Dinner was typically Latvian, apparently--boiled potatoes, cottage cheese, and cold smoked herring packed in oil. Considering I don't eat fish or cottage cheese, it was pretty good, and at least filling, which isn't always the case around here--Zane doesn't seem that interested in carbs. It was also nice to avoid fresh veggies. While the E. Coli out break hasn't reached Latvia (from what we've heard, anyway), since it's pretty bad and no one seems to know what is causing it, we're generally trying to stay away from lettuce/tomatoes/cucumbers/sprouts, and you know, all of Northern Germany.

They left pretty early (9:30ish) and since we hadn't been in the sun quite so much, I had enough energy to pick classes for next semester (all on Monday and Tuesday), which was probably a bit silly, because there is the whole paying for tuition thing...(and before the peanut gallery comments, thanks to this whole dirt digging, cow milking lark, these few months are about the same cost as living at home for me, including flights). It was good to know that four of the seven required courses I need are there, and in a great schedule, next semester, so we'll see what we can do to actually take them...

And that brings us basically up to date. Up at 6:30 to do this and work, and then people are meant to start showing up around 9.


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